Greetings Bug Fans! It’s time for another installment of Friday Flyers!! For the last few weeks we’ve been trying to highlight some of the more well known families of insects, and we’ve shown you some of the most popular butterflies, moths, and insects. This week we are going to introduce you to an insect family that is not as widely known, but a family that is no less spectacular than some of its better known cousins. This week’s Friday Flyer is the Fulgorid family! Fulgorids and their kin are commonly known in the insect world as the “leaf hoppers”. They are vegetarians, and feed mostly on the liquids flowing within the stems and branches of plants. They feed by piercing the plant with their short “tongues” and sucking nutrients from the fluids within the plant. Fulgorids are the tropical relatives of the North American Treehoppers, Leafhoppers, Cicadas and Aphids. The North American species are relatively small in size and not often colorful, but the Fulgorids are often very colorful, and many have exotic shapes.
Fulgorids have bodies that are shaped somewhat like cicadas. They fold their wings over their backs while at rest, also just like cicadas. They are very difficult to find when at rest, because their forewings are typically textured and drably camouflaged to look like the branches and bark they hide on. However, these drab forewings almost always conceal brightly colored and boldly patterned hind wings. These bright colors seem to appear out of nowhere when the Fulgorids are disturbed, and likely startle would-be predators which gives the Fulgorid just enough time to fly to another location close by. They are very noticeable in flight, but they disappear immediately when they land and close their wings. We have seen Fulgorids many times on our vacations to the tropics, and they never cease to amaze us.
Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the Fulgorids is that their heads are incredibly distorted and enlarged. Most have very elongated “noses” (actually the front or top of their heads). Sometimes their heads even have spikes or “saw tooth” shaped extensions that can be as long as the rest of their bodies! There are several hundred notable species of Fulgorids in the tropics, most with wingspans of 3 to 6 inches. There are probably 20 species of Fulgorids that are widely available to collectors, but some of the more obscure species are truly amazing and highly prized. Undoubtedly there are many more species yet to be discovered in some of the more remote jungles.
We have several species of Fulgorids featured in our Wonders Of Nature department, each a fascinating and exotic representative of this truly remarkable family. And best of all, they are very affordable because they are generally medium sized and they fit comfortably into some of our smaller frames. They range in price from $50.00 to $95.00! These beautifully framed and matted specimens will be wonderful additions to your growing collection, and you’ll appreciate and admire them for many years to come.
Finally, be sure to tell your Facebook friends about our Friday Flyers weekly feature! We truly enjoy this opportunity to introduce the amazing world of insects to you, and we love sharing our passion with new friends. We hope to see you soon!
We came across this exceptional Fulgorid Bug while doing fieldwork in South America! The bottom picture shows what this insect looks like when its wings are closed. It was perfectly camouflaged on the tree it landed on, and the spiked nose blended into the spiked tree trunk (typical of many South American trees). The top picture shows the wings, boldly colored, to scare off predators.
One of the most spectacular insects in our Wonders of Nature department, this is a rare South American Fulgorid Bug. It has a serrated nose and bold neon orange eye spots to scare away predators!
A curved-nose Fulgorid Bug! We took this picture while doing fieldwork in Ecuador.
One of the prettiest Fulgorid Bugs we've seen! This little leaf hopper has a wingspan of around 2", and when disturbed, he drops to the ground and plays dead. We took this picture in Ecuador during one of our research trips.
Strange looking Fulgorids from Indonesia
This amazing Fulgorid bug has a three-spiked nose!